In our last blog post, we shared 7 tips on how to build culture in a remote team which, from the feedback I received, is a hot topic and something we will keep working on as we navigate the realms of remote working even further. Keeping on our series of helpful tips & tricks, we’re digging a little deeper on how to evaluate employees in your remote teams. We even have a little gift for you…..not 1 but 3 downloadable templates at the end of this blog ✨Happy Lunar New Year 🥳 this is our Hong Bao (red packet) to you. 😊
Employee Evaluations are an important part of growing a company, over the years we have seen it evolve from basic questions, to including employee self-evaluation and even in recent years, data and analytics. When done properly, evaluations can be a great source of information to both parties and essential in your employee development and employee experience. It paves way for succession planning, growth and retention 💁🏽♀️
But what about in a remote team? 🤔 Let’s forget for a minute that you probably have met your team face to face before starting to work remotely, because you will genuinely know how they work, limitations, personality and probably have preconceived ideas so evaluating them is a bit easier. But when you start onboarding new employees and they start working remotely straight away, it becomes a little different.
While you can apply some traditional methods used with your in-office employees to measure their performance, here are some tried and tested ways in which Agile HRO have used, that we suggest to evaluate your remote employees by:
📈 Measure Output, Not Input
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but micromanagement ends here. If you are a micromanager, please go all the way back to 2010 and change your style, it’s no longer valid in the future of work environment 👋🏽
Right, this is possibly one of the most important topics. We need to start measuring our employees’ output, let’s be honest, we work way longer at home than we should because we are motivated to complete our projects and hit our objectives. What does not motivate us is when you are being clockwatched on your active chat status…. No sir,this stops here.
Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, has some strong doubts about the normal 9-to-5 grind. “If someone shows up in the morning dressed appropriately and isn’t drunk or asleep at his desk, we assume he’s working. If he’s making spreadsheets and to-do lists, we assume he’s working really hard. Unfortunately, none of this gets at what an employee actually creates during the day,” Mullenweg says in a Harvard Business Review post.
Measure remote workers on OKR’s, objectives and key results. Originated by Google’s internal system, it
aims to organise the company’s workload by setting objectives that work towards key results.
These objectives correspond to targets that can relate growth, change or innovation. One objective could be to increase engagement with clients, for example.
A practical example of objectives, results and how they could be presented:
- Objective 1: increase sales
- KR 1: double monthly sales leads
- KR 2: reduce our sales cycle by 10%
- Objective 2: improve customer service
- KR 1: reduce calls to support by 40%
- KR 2: reduce response time on any channel by half.
- KR 3: keep the resolution rate to at least 95%.
Getting Started with Objectives & Key Results explains more about the methodology and how it positively impacts and organization. OKRs, therefore, enable the team to stay aligned while remote working. At the same time, the human resources department has a tool to assess each person’s work and measure their progress.
🗣 Get feedback from the team
This wouldn’t be a remote team without some team feedback 😊 It’s always important to remember that your employees don’t just interact with their immediate supervisor and HR, they interact on a daily basis with their colleagues in their immediate team making them a crucial part of evaluating your remote employees and essential to building company culture in a remote team.
Phil Haack, software coach and author, said he heavily relied on this team atmosphere to evaluate performance when he was an engineering manager at GitHub. He explains that when you create a strong team, it’s easy to see who isn’t pulling their weight. For performance reviews, Haack asks each employee to send him a list of three to five co-workers they would like peer feedback from. He then asks those co-workers to provide feedback for the individual in three categories: Start, Stop, and Continue. Each box should focus on behaviors that match the title (behaviors someone might want to stop, for example). Haack adds the boxes aren’t mandatory. “If you have three categories, the temptation is to put something in each. You might not feel very strongly that someone needs to stop doing something.” In that case, employees can just leave a box blank.
Haack takes those bits of feedback and distills them down into major takeaways, combining duplicates and making sure feedback is worded in a useful manner. The end result is a collection of behavior-based feedback from individuals you work with daily.
Two elements are crucial takeaways:
- The format (Start, Stop, and Continue) provides a framework that makes a difficult task (giving peer feedback) easier. The main purpose is to help employees organize their thoughts.
- The feedback should be focused on behaviors, not personalities. The former is something an employee can improve; the latter isn’t.
💁🏽♀️ How to use self-evaluations
Self-evaluations are an amazing way to get employees to really stop and reflect on their goals, responsibilities, overall performance, strengths and weaknesses, however, they also have a bad rap.
In the Harvard Business Review article, Keith Ferrazzi explains employees tend to fall in one of two traps (potentially both). First, become a victim of the “Overconfidence Effect”, which causes them to overestimate their competence in a given area. Second, they’re likely to make a Fundamental Attribution Error, pinning their successes on talent and wisdom while failing to acknowledge environmental factors.
The trick with self-evaluations is to combine how the employee sees themself, how their colleagues see them and then how their manager sees them and see what alignments there are and where the disconnects are. If they are used in this combination then there are no bias assessments from any 3 pillars.
💬 Provide Valuable Feedback Often
Do you remember the old days when you’re in the office, something exciting happens and everyone around you is buzzing and hi-fiving or your boss sees how hard you have been working and gives you a pat on the back? Motivating right? Or perhaps you aren’t doing so well and you need that feedback and support? As a remote worker, silence can be deafening. It is probably the worst thing to do as a manager or colleague going a whole day without hearing from anyone.
As a manager it is important for you to keep providing them feedback often, and document it. That way they won’t feel disconnected from the work environment and would continue to perform stably. And you will be able to follow the pattern of their performances.
Everyone I have spoken with about remote work, emphasized the benefits of giving regular feedback outside of formal reviews. Why? Because regular feedback lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and reduces the chance of a surprise during a more formal review.
When Haack was at GitHub, he had regular one-on-one meetings with his distributed team (they live all over the world) using a video conferencing software called Blue Jeans. At Help Scout, team leads have scheduled weekly reviews with everyone in their department. They chat about what has gone well since the last check-in and what’s looming on the horizon.
Share praise and own blame.
🙏🏽 Trust in your employees
One common thread that runs deep across every method of managing a remote team: trust.
As i mentioned it in our previous blog post, employees need to trust that their managers are looking out for their best interest. Managers need to trust that their employees are engaged and motivated at work.
Part of this trust is built during the hiring process—selecting candidates who are self-motivated—and the rest is built over time with each positive interaction.
Just like in-person office cultures, remote office cultures can differ wildly. Being transparent about your company’s values and culture goes a long way towards establishing trust in your remote team.
Download Free Templates
As promised, here are our downloadable templates to help you manage your remote teams:
We at Agile HRO are no strangers to remote work or helping companies succeed, no matter how or where in the world. If you’re thinking about setting up a remote team, hiring employees around the globe, or simply considering expanding your business, feel free to reach out to us and tell us how we can help here.